Friday, May 28, 2010

Yin and Yang

I am not sure why I am consistently surprised by the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs of parenthood.

Yesterday was one of those days...just a perfect kid day. Preschool, walk on the beach, playtime on the rug, story time, picnic at the park, painting, and a full hour of L and C playing together with no arguments. An hour! That is a record by about 55 minutes.

I mean, it was one of those days that you really shouldn't even talk about because then the universe will know that you need a little balancing out the next day. And, of course, I talked about it...

So, going to drink some more coffee while my kids watch a bit too much TV on this rainy morning. Ta, ta.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Things I Love

Some things that are making me smile...

New(ish) pillow covers from Etsy seller Ruthscrafts; this print makes me happy every day.

My brown Converse sneakers. I hope I am never too old to rock these puppies. Am coveting some light grey ones as well.

My new North Face Isabella backpack (Thanks, Mom!) I have avoided doing the mom-with-backpack thing and now I am not sure why I waited so long. Loving it.

Watermelon from Trader Joe's is just amazing right now. I cannot believe that $3.99 can bring our family that much happiness.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

3 out of 10

I am one of those people who can give healthy, positive advice. When I speak to friends who are struggling with their self-image, their relationships, their place in the world, I can clearly see the beauty, strength and importance of those women. It is easy to give advice to such amazing people. Just tell them how fantastic they are and why.

Before you think I am a little too sure of myself and tooting my own horn, read on.

I am terrible at accepting healthy, positive advice. It has taken me a long time to see my own beauty, strength and importance. In fact, I am still working on it.

So, when I made my list for this year, I decided to choose goals based on the advice I would give to my friends. "Choose yourself." "Take time for you and your interests." "Take a chance; you are strong and amazing." "There is no reason to feel guilty."

Hence, #3. Get yoga back into my life.

I have learned to really love yoga. It was a stretch for me (horrible pun truly not intended, but my inner dork will not let me edit it out either, so...) to appreciate the strength, the focus, and the endurance it can take to get through a challenging yoga class. I was a gym girl and focused on the numbers, the time ticking away on the machine to tell me how hard I worked. Yoga was different. I learned to love the difference.

Now, I am taking my own advice. Once a week, I bring my kids to the gym and drop them off at the kids' center. No guilt. I stretch, I balance, I flow, I practice yoga. No guilt. I even take a shower sometimes. At the gym. With no kids around. Yeah. No guilt.

For an hour and fifteen minutes, my kids play and I choose myself. I lose the guilt. I choose my interests.

And, because life truly is in session, I may or may not have had to leave my beautiful tree pose today to wipe my kid's bottom. Isn't that just perfect?


Fresh Dinner for the Summer

This is one of our favorite dinners. Serve with hummus and cut-up red peppers, cucumbers and baby tomatoes. We sometimes throw some grilled chicken on top if we have leftovers. The best thing is that you can make this salad early in the day. It is actually better when it has been in the fridge for awhile. I try to get feta cheese with herbs from Trader Joe's and then omit the oregano and pepper.

S and I love this. The kids will eat it, but only after some coaxing. We start off with lots of bites with only rice and beans, and then try bits of each veggie. (I highly recommend serving this during a blackout. Those darn kiddies seriously each ate an entire bowl without a complaint. They couldn't see a thing! --True story)

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped red, orange or yellow pepper
  • 8 cups bagged prewashed spinach (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted


Cool rice after cooking.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until spinach wilts.

Combine rice, sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, spinach mixture, cheese, and beans. Sprinkle with nuts; serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Musings

Sunday morning, driving home from Trader Joe's with the fam, I saw this:

And, I thought, "Wow. If the A-Team was a bunch of chicks, those faces would have the crap airbrushed out of them." I said something like that to S. He said something like, "True that, sista." (Actually, he totally said that.)

Then I thought about this:

And, I sort of wanted to cry.

Sidenote: I love SATC. Love. I am planning on seeing it this weekend. I am just wondering when I am going to see a billboard of unshaven, sweaty women with their scars and wrinkles untouched.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Little Things

Today, the little things amounted to a whole lot...

Spending time with 5 wonderful mamas and our collective 9 kiddos at the park

Watching sand being dug, apple slices being shared, 3-year-old problems being resolved

Finding common threads in the lives of very different, yet very close friends

Smelling a beautiful baby's head

Crowding on the sofa, listening to S telling stories to the kids, dozing

Relaxing in the living room, enjoying the cool breeze and the smell of star jasmine through the window

Life is never perfect. There were tears shed today. Boo-boos bandaged. Frustrations aired. Tantrums thrown.

Life is in session. I am trying to embrace it all. The sharing and the tears. The stories and the tantrums.

photo by TracyElaine via Flickr

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things I Love

Some of my favorites:
Method brand wood floor cleaner from Target
(The almond smell seriously makes mopping my floors enjoyable.)

Earrings from Etsy seller SMVDesigns
(Mother's Day present for my mama that I am hoping to borrow this summer!)

Perfect Mossimo T-shirt from Target
(I am a sucker for t-shirts, stripes and clothes that do not need ironing.)

illy coffee
(A coffee splurge that, literally, helped me stop crying this morning
after my 4:45 wake-up call from L and C.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1 out of 10

When making my list of 10 things to accomplish in 2010, I chose "learn to make bread" for several reasons.

  • To feel pretty darn cool, in that Southern California Earth Mama way.
  • There is nothing like the smell of freshly-baked bread.
  • The magic of flour, yeast, water, salt combining to make something so delicious.
  • My family has a history with bread. NY Italian bread at Grandma's kitchen table, seeds falling into our teacups. We like sandwiches for dinner, toast for breakfast, and bread dipped in sauce for an appetizer.
  • My kids. Bread-making is something they can participate in, mixing ingredients, playing with dough. And, they will actually eat the end result!

So, I borrowed Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day from the library. I have had mixed results with the buttermilk bread recipe (and accompanying cinnamon raisin recipe.) A friend recommended that I let the bread sit longer than the book suggests. Also, letting the bread touch the side of the pan to help it rise. Any bread-makers out there? Advice? Recipes?

Help a wanna-be Earth Mama out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Giving Tofu a Chance

I was a vegetarian for about 6 years. Never a good one, mind you. Lots of bagels and cereal and salads. College cafeterias in the late 90's were not catering to vegetarians, that's for sure. I suddenly started to eat meat again, about 8 years ago. Turkey and chicken mainly, but occasionally, a hamburger, too. I cannot seem to say 'no' when my husband asks if I want an "In and Out" burger.

In light of the health and ecological benefits of eating vegetarian, I have been trying to prepare at least 3 vegetarian meals each week for our family. Pasta with vegetables, veggie pizza and vegetable lasagna are staples. But I have been trying to branch out. I tried this recipe last week. I loved it and ate it for lunch 3 days straight. My little one, C, ate it straight out of the serving bowl. My daughter, L, picked at it. And my husband said, "Yeah. I just don't like tofu."

Mixed reviews, I would have to admit. But, if you like tofu, you will like this. Oh, and I can't say 'no' to goat cheese, either.

Note: I added a can of pinto beans.

(Photo and recipe from Real Simple online)

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 20m
Total Time: 20m

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu—drained, patted dry, and crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
kosher salt and black pepper
1 10-ounce package frozen corn (2 cups), thawed
1 5-ounce package baby spinach (about 6 loosely packed cups)
8 small flour tortillas, warmed
3/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (3 ounces)
3/4 cup store-bought refrigerated salsa

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the corn and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss until wilted.
Fill the tortillas with the tofu mixture, goat cheese, and salsa.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Musings

Do you get the Monday blues? I feel like I get them even worse now, as a stay-at-home mom, than I did when I was working full-time. I am not sure why.

Maybe it is that weekends tend to be slower now. I am able to get the errands, chores and such completed during the week. So, weekends really feel like family time now. Time to go to the park, take naps, go to church, eat dinner with friends.

I used to be so busy, before I had kids. Filling every moment with something social, or shopping, or going to the beach, or getting ready to go out with friends. I didn't really appreciate the slow and simple as I do now. Not that having kids will do this to everyone; it is just what happened to me.

This weekend was slow and, quite possibly, boring to some. Lucky me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Little Things

Some days the cliche is true. "The little things" can really bring a moment of quiet, of peace, of beauty into the day.
A day full of quick breakfasts, singing in the car, playing at the park, washing dishes, cleaning dirty kid feet, brushing teeth, washing dishes (again), doing laundry, buckling bike helmets, and calling scrambled eggs 'dinner.'

My little thing on this beautiful Friday: Mother's Day bouquet, reconstructed. Out with the wilted flowers and in with a cute little display near the front door.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Date Much?

We live 3,000 miles away from family. We were the first in our group of friends to have children. We have a mortgage that kind of kicks our booties each and every month. So...confession. We do not do "Date Night."

Seems to me that every article I read about parenting and living a balanced life mentions having a regular date night. If you really care about your marriage, then you must have a date night. I think that is great in theory. I think that if we lived by my parents we would be going out a few times a month. But, our current situation does not lend itself to weekly nights out for me and my husband.

Why do I feel so badly about that fact? (And why do I hate the term "date night" so darn much?)

I care about our marriage. I love my husband's company. I appreciate time away from the kids to engage one another without interruptions from the kids.

So, we have tried "In House" nights with dinner at the table, glasses of wine, no TV, no internet.

It works. It is true. We connect. Our conversation veers away from our daily happenings, the kids and such. We talk about things we used to talk about. Things we talked about before kids. Before mortgage payments. When nights out would start at 7:00 and last until late in the night. When mornings would be spent sleeping in.

We have fallen out of this pattern and I am thinking it is time to reinstate the "no interruptions" dinner with the hubs.

Today's goal: get it on the calendar. And, come up with a new name for "Date Night."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

10 for 2010

I don't think I have ever kept New Year's Resolutions. I hardly ever even get up the motivation to actually make them. But, I do love a good list. So, I decided on Ten for 2010. Ten things that I would like to accomplish this year. A year felt like an awfully long time. Some items on the list were the kind of things you do once and they are done. Others would, ideally, create positive habits in my life. Ten for 2010 felt...possible.

1. learn to bake bread
2. learn to sew; take a class
3. get yoga back into my life
4. plant small garden near garage
5. start an art/play group for kids and friends
6. find a place to volunteer with kids
7. in-house date night every other week
8. learn to use espresso maker
9. overnight trip with Steve
10. start a blog

Well, it is May. Halfway through May, actually. I am doing a reasonably good job. More on my progress to come...I wonder if a blog with no readers will actually keep me accountable to this list.

A Day

Today I cried at the sweetness of my daughter at preschool.
I ran through Target and Trader Joe's like I was on an episode of "Supermarket Sweep."
I kissed my husband when he walked in the door.
I forced my two-year-old son to say, "I love you, too, Mama." when I expressed my devotion to him. Twice.
I made my super 5-minute-dinner, spinach ravioli. Five minutes was too long for the hungry young ones.
I took an extra long shower and shaved my legs.

At the end of the day I felt very accomplished. The shaving of the legs really tipped the scales in my favor.